Friday, August 30, 2013

A leafy green oasis


Some days in the summer it gets really hot and humid up here.  Although our home naturally stays quite cool as long as we are careful to keep things closed up, the heat and humidity outdoors can make activities quite uncomfortable at times.  It's always a blessing to find a place that is a little bit cooler.

For quite some time now Mr. T and I have wanted to try out a local walking/bike path, but hadn't gotten to it.  A couple of weeks ago, we did.  We usually give a friend a ride home from church, and she moved this summer.  So now we drive by this path twice on Sunday.  One day we decided to stop and walk at least part of the path.

Were we glad we did!  What a blessing to find a place so cool and green, with the soothing babble of a nearby river running over rocks.  
Taken from a bridge near the beginning of the path
One can actually feel the coolness rising from this river
An old dam; we liked the look of the goldenrod beside the water
There are picnic tables in this area

I should add that not all of the path is like this.  Parts of it go along the side of the highway and are right in the sun; not refreshing at all.  We have not yet walked the entire path, but as the days grow cooler, we will.  Meanwhile, we are so enjoying our occasional visits to this leafy green oasis.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hamburgers, anyone?

 Finally I can post pictures of these fun felt hamburgers which I sent to my grandson Micah for his birthday.  I intended to make them all cheeseburgers, but only had enough cheese-colored felt to make one. 
 
I will make some more felt cheese slices when I can get to a Jo-Ann's to get the proper color of felt. 

Here is the link to the tutorial I used: Felt Cheeseburger</>.  The only thing I did differently was the tomato slices (read on to see what I did) and I also did the burger buns differently by using white felt for the inside of each bun and by turning them rather than topstitching.  I just thought it looked a little more real that way, and it was almost as easy.

I also made felt ripple chips and the bags to contain them.  Here's the link for that tutorial: Felt Ripple Chips and Bags</>.  
I must add that this is a picture from several years ago when I made bags of chips for my other grandkids.  This time around, I made all four of the bags red.
This particular pattern also includes components for sandwiches -- ham (or bologna, I forget which) and cheese, along with lettuce and tomato, and peanut butter & jelly.  I used the tomato pattern from this tutorial for the cheeseburgers.  I was limited in how many chips I could make by the amount of chip-colored felt in my stash.  I was literally sewing scraps together to make chips!  (You can tell that our local Wal*Mart is limited in its selection of felt colors ... nonetheless, I am just thankful that they carry felt again!)

These went over very well with the recipient and his siblings!  I made four of everything so he could share.  If you're looking to get started in making felt food, these items might be a good place to start because everything is quite easy and a lot of it is done with the sewing machine rather than by hand.  I will warn you though ... making felt food can be addictive!


Monday, August 26, 2013

Goals for week beginning 8/26/2013

Lake Willoughby, Vermont
Monday again!  Here is a list of my goals for this week:
*  Spend time in 2 Samuel Bible study
*  Finish Sunday School lesson 8
 *  Make 1 or 2 pages for "What Do I Know About My God"?  notebook
*  Memorize Psalm 145:1-5
*  Read 2 chapters in A Woman's Call to Prayer
*  Exercise or go for walks as often as time allows
*  Keep up with crafting goals for birthdays, Christmas, and finishing UFOs
* Start work on Darrin's birthday gift
*  Start work on a cookbook for a wedding gift
*  Make some homemade padded mailing envelopes
*  Bake some cookies and muffins
*  Keep up a good water intake
*  Get to bed by 9:30 or 10 pm each night
*  Post at least four times in my regular blog, and in my Christmas blog as time allows
*  Get a lot of basic homemaking tasks done in various zones of the house
*  Spend at least 15 minutes a day reorganizing the many piles, stacks, notebooks and containers full of recipes I've collected over time.
*  Make a daily time schedule for the things I need to do
*  Enjoy some weekend times with friends

And here is how last week went:
*  Begin a new Back on Track challenge -- not done [see note below]
*  Spend time in 2 Samuel Bible study -- DONE!
*  Finish Sunday School lesson 8-- not quite finished
 *  Make 1 or 2 pages for "What Do I Know About My God"?  notebook -- DONE!
*  Memorize Psalm 145:1-5 -- memorized verse 3 and am thinking about trying to memorize this entire psalm.
*  Read 2 chapters in A Woman's Call to Prayer -- DONE!
*  Exercise or go for walks as often as time allows -- managed a few walks
*  Keep up with crafting goals for birthdays, Christmas, and finishing UFOs -- DONE!
* Start work on Darrin's birthday gift -- not done
*  Start work on a cookbook for a wedding gift -- bought needed materials
*  Keep up a good water intake -- DONE!
*  Get to bed by 9:30 or 10 pm each night -- nearly managed this
*  Post at least four times in my regular blog, and in my Christmas blog as time allows -- DONE!
*  Get a lot of basic homemaking tasks done in various zones of the house -- DONE!
*  Begin the large project of reorganizing the many piles, stacks, notebooks and containers full of recipes I've collected over time -- not started, but I'm making a new commitment to work 15 minutes a day (at least on weekdays) on this project.
 *  Weed the garden -- think I'm giving up on this; the squash and lettuce (the only things that ever really took  hold) are holding their own and the squash is sprawled all over the garden.
*  Make a daily time schedule for the things I need to do -- DONE!

There are not as many  DONE!s as I'd like to see, so I'm surely hoping for a more productive week ahead (although it does look like a busy one with lots of time spent out of the house).  I'm hoping that by modifying a few of the big goals I may make more progress.  We will see!

As for the back-on-track challenge, I'm going to try and start that in September.  I'm just not getting anywhere with it, so I think I need to just start over.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A vintage clothespin bag


The new bag in use
 I made a clothespin bag quite a few years ago when my old [boughten] one wore out.  I used a vintage-style pattern I found online and vintage fabric from my grandmother.
The previous clothespin bag I made probably a half dozen years ago.  It had faded to a dull gray and the fabric became so weak it was constantly ripping and was full of holes.  Every time I used it, clothespins fell out.
This summer it became obvious that the fabric had disintegrated from spending so much time in the sun and from its heavy load of clothespins and a couple of clothesline spacers.  I had to do something, but when I went to look for the pattern I'd used previously I couldn't find it. 

My search did yield another, very simple pattern which I had printed out years ago.  This simple clothespin bag is made from a kitchen towel and a wooden clothes hanger.  I knew I had wooden hangers on hand -- my great-aunt had given me a bunch of them a long time ago.  I wasn't sure I had any dishtowels in my fabric stash, though.  Then I remembered some kitchen linens that had come from my grandmother originally.  They were thick textured cotton with a colorful design of tulips, windmills and so on.  I had used some of these as dresser or bureau scarves in the past as they were really too thick to work as a dishtowel and too dense to be a hand towel.  And they were stained in places.  It seemed to me that putting one of these to work as a clothespin bag would give it a useful new life.  Best of all, it was just enough wider than my wooden hanger to work perfectly with the pattern.
The finished bag.  You can see what a pretty print this towel is.
I had thought I couldn't share the link to this pattern, as the page it links to no longer exists.  I think I've had this pattern since 2006 or so, so it's not surprising.  But I just now (January 2014) tried searching in a slightly different manner, and found the link!  Here it is: Vintage Style Clothespin Bag.  This project was very, very  easy and took perhaps 20 minutes total.
 
I'm not completely thrilled with this bag -- it is a lot bigger and less compact than the old one --  but it is hard-working, sturdy and cheerful-looking.  Best of all, it cost nothing (same cost as the previous one!) and recycled a couple of older items.  It is truly a vintage project!





Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding Dessert


Photo by Taste of Home
Several weeks ago I tried this dessert recipe: Chocolate Peanut Butter Dessert for our weekly potluck at church.  I have made similar desserts in the past, in particular a plain chocolate one and a lemon one.  Those are both wonderful, but I decided to give this chocolate peanut butter variation a try, and am so glad that I did.

The pudding layer includes both chocolate and vanilla pudding mixes for more of a milk chocolate flavor.  The cream cheese layer includes peanut butter, and there are chopped peanuts in the crust.  I was able to make this wheat free by substituting gluten free all purpose flour and adding a bit of xanthan gum.  This is a very delicious variation on the recipe and one that I will be making again.  If your family enjoys the flavors of chocolate and peanut butter together, you will want to give this recipe a try!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Goals for week beginning 8/19/2013


The beautiful graphic is from Little Birdie Blessings.
Here are my goals for the coming week:
*  Begin a new Back on Track challenge
*  Spend time in 2 Samuel Bible study
*  Finish Sunday School lesson 8
 *  Make 1 or 2 pages for "What Do I Know About My God"?  notebook
*  Memorize Psalm 145:1-5
*  Read 2 chapters in A Woman's Call to Prayer
*  Exercise or go for walks as often as time allows
*  Keep up with crafting goals for birthdays, Christmas, and finishing UFOs
* Start work on Darrin's birthday gift
*  Start work on a cookbook for a wedding gift
*  Keep up a good water intake
*  Get to bed by 9:30 or 10 pm each night
*  Post at least four times in my regular blog, and in my Christmas blog as time allows
*  Get a lot of basic homemaking tasks done in various zones of the house
*  Begin the large project of reorganizing the many piles, stacks, notebooks and containers full of recipes I've collected over time.
*  Weed the garden
*  Make a daily time schedule for the things I need to do

And here's how last week went:
*  Begin a new Back on Track challenge -- not done
*  Spend time in 2 Samuel Bible study -- DONE!
*  Get a good start on Sunday School lesson 8 -- DONE!
 *  Make 1 or 2 pages for "What Do I Know About My God"?  notebook -- DONE!
*  Memorize Psalm 145:1-5 -- not done; reviewed Psalm 90:12 instead
*  Read 2 chapters in A Woman's Call to Prayer -- DONE!
*  Exercise or go for walks as often as time allows -- not done
*  Keep up with crafting goals for birthdays, Christmas, and finishing UFOs -- -- DONE!
* Prepare and send a birthday package to Micah -- DONE!
*  Keep up a good water intake -- not done
*  Get to bed by 9:30 or 10 pm each night -- not done, although we did try
*  Post at least four times in my regular blog, and in my Christmas blog as time allows -- didn't quite manage four times; think I posted three times in the regular blog and a couple times in the Christmas one
*  Get a lot of basic homemaking tasks done in various zones of the house -- DONE!
*  Begin the large project of reorganizing the many piles, stacks, notebooks and containers full of recipes I've collected over time  -- not done
 *  Weed the garden -- not done
*  Make a daily time schedule for the things I need to do  -- DONE!

Last week was busy and stressful.  I'm hoping for a quieter, more productive week coming up.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Appreciating the little things


Graphic by Little Birdie Blessings
For Sunday School this week we are working on a lesson about the wise use of and appreciation of our time.  One verse I looked at was Ecclesiastes 3:1:

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."

Often when a verse is familiar like this, I will do a bit of looking to see if I can find interesting or encouraging quotes from godly writers of old.  One of my very favorite devotional writers of days gone by is F.B. Meyer.  Here is what he wrote concerning this verse:

“Do not be in too great a hurry. There is time for everything that has to be done. He who gave you your life-work has given you just enough time to do it in. The length of life's candle is measured out according to the length of your required task. You must take necessary time for meditation, for sleep, for food, for the enjoyment of human love and friendship; and even then there will be time enough left for your necessary duties.

 “Do not be impatient. He who made you has prepared the successive steps along which you must travel to realize your full human development. God knows what you need and will bring you to its fulfillment, only you must wait His leisure with whom a thousand years are as one day, and one day as a thousand years. He can mature events with marvelous rapidity, and you will find that He will perfect that which concerneth you, so that no good thing will fail. He who feeds the wild things of the prairie and woodland, giving to each its appropriate portion, will not fail any one of us.
   

 “God puts bright and beautiful things into our lives which we need not be afraid of enjoying, it being understood that we do not snatch at them, or use them for our personal pleasure alone. Everything is beautiful after its sort and in its season, and every day has some element of goodwill in it, but we sometimes so strain our eyes towards a distant spot on the horizon that we miss the flowers on which we are treading.”  -- F.B. Meyer
   
As I thought about this, I realized it was so true, and that last paragraph really spoke to me.  My husband and I plan once-or-twice-a-year getaways up north, and we also try to see our family out West once a year if we can.  It would be so easy to focus only on those “distant spots on the horizon”, never noticing the simple, refreshing moments ("the flowers on which we are treading") He gives us on a daily basis.  I’m sure I occasionally do miss some of these, but I’m trying to become more aware of those simple opportunities to catch my breath and appreciate the beauty God provides every day if we will only stop and look.


Here are a few of the small things I want to remember and appreciate this week:

* The gorgeous blue lake we drove past several times.  I take a deep breath every time as if I could breathe in the essence of this beautiful place and bring it home with me.
*  A little grandson who, on seeing us approach his house, darted into the bushes and emerged with two freshly picked blackberries -- one for Grampa and one for me.
*  The sight of a small black bear ambling through the woods bordering my back yard.
*  The wonderful breeze I enjoyed while working on paperwork on the patio.
*  A green oasis of trees and bushes with a babbling brook alongside, on a local walking path.
*  The iridescent gold filigree wings of a dragonfly.

... And much, much more.

What little things can you notice and appreciate this week?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lime Coconut Cheesecake


Photo by Taste of Home
This weekend I tried a new dessert recipe: Lime Coconut Cheesecake and took it to the potluck lunch at church.  It was very easy to put together.  The coconut crust was the only part of the recipe that required baking, and that only for 10-15 minutes.  The cheesecake was of the no-bake type, using unflavored gelatin.  I had my doubts about that when I removed the side of the springform pan prior to serving the cheesecake, as it seemed perhaps not quite set.  But it worked out just fine.  Every bit of this cheesecake was devoured at dessert time; there was not even one scrap left!
I will definitely be making this recipe again.  It was so easy to make, and very well received.  A keeper!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Goals for week beginning 8/12/2013

Newfound Lake from Little Sugarloaf
How can it be Monday again?  I know I say that (or something like it!) nearly every Monday, but I genuinely wonder how the week flew by so quickly.  Anyhow, here are my goals for the week:
*  Begin a new Back on Track challenge
*  Spend time in 2 Samuel Bible study
*  Get a good start on Sunday School lesson 8
 *  Make 1 or 2 pages for "What Do I Know About My God"?  notebook
*  Memorize Psalm 145:1-5
*  Read 2 chapters in A Woman's Call to Prayer
*  Exercise or go for walks as often as time allows
*  Keep up with crafting goals for birthdays, Christmas, and finishing UFOs
* Prepare and send a birthday package to Micah
*  Keep up a good water intake
*  Get to bed by 9:30 or 10 pm each night
*  Post at least four times in my regular blog, and in my Christmas blog as time allows
*  Get a lot of basic homemaking tasks done in various zones of the house
*  Begin the large project of reorganizing the many piles, stacks, notebooks and containers full of recipes I've collected over time.
*  Weed the garden
*  Make a daily time schedule for the things I need to do

And here's how last week went:
*  Begin a new Back on Track challenge --  not done
*  Spend time in 2 Samuel Bible study -- DONE!
*  Get a good start on Sunday School lesson 7 -- DONE! (I actually finished it!)
 *  Make 1 or 2 pages for "What Do I Know About My God"?  notebook -- DONE!
*  Memorize Psalm 145:1-5 -- worked on verse 2
*  Read 2 chapters in A Woman's Call to Prayer -- DONE!
*  Exercise or go for walks as often as time allows -- did okay with this
*  Keep up with crafting goals for birthdays, Christmas, and finishing UFOs -- DONE!
* Get a birthday package ready for Micah -- not quite ready
*  Keep up a good water intake-- DONE!
*  Get to bed by 9:30 or 10 pm each night -- not done
*  Post at least four times in my regular blog, and in my Christmas blog as time allows -- DONE!
*  Get a lot of basic homemaking tasks done in various zones of the house -- not done
*  Begin the large project of reorganizing the many piles, stacks, notebooks and containers full of recipes I've collected over time -- not done
 *  Weed the garden -- not done
*  Make a daily time schedule for the things I need to do  -- DONE!

Needless to say I am hoping for a more productive week this week!

Friday, August 09, 2013

Nectarine Chicken Salad

Photo by Taste of Home
Good peaches and nectarines are available right now, and I had had this recipe: Nectarine Chicken Salad  on my "to-try" list for several weeks.  I finally got around to trying the salad this week, and we enjoyed it very much!

I did use peaches rather than nectarines, since that's what I had.  For the lettuce component I used a bag of the "triple hearts" salad mix by Fresh Express.  I used leftover cooked chicken rather than cooking chicken breasts -- I had cooked a roasting chicken in the crockpot last Friday and so had plenty of chicken to work with.  I think the only other thing I changed was not to use thyme in the dressing.  I like thyme in moderation, but wasn't sure about using only that herb in this dressing.  So I used a teaspoon of salad seasoning instead, reasoning that thyme was probably part of the blend.  Also, salad seasoning contains salt, and it seemed to me this dressing could use a little of that.  But I would say, use whatever herb or blend of herbs that appeals to you.

We thought this salad was deliciously different, and will definitely be making this recipe again!


Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Pink Bee Balm


Pink bee balm complete with bees
 Yesterday I mentioned that the pink bee balm I had planted at the edge of the garden last year is doing very well.  Gina asked for a picture, and so I took a few and also had my husband take some, as his photography skills are far superior to mine.  However, his close-ups (taken a couple of hours after the photos I took) show the raggedyness of the flowers, where I actually captured a couple of bees in mine.  I think the sun was going down and the bees had left the flowers when he took his pictures.

 
How unusual ... or so it seems to us, anyway.  The top blossom here seems to have sprouted directly out of the one below it.
 Many years ago, a friend gave me some bee balm plants.  They didn't do much for a long time, then they blossomed for several years in a row.  These were the red bee balm. 
 
Hummingbirds love it!  Those plants did spread a bit, then they disappeared. 
 
I think they may have been choked out by the jewelweed which is rampant in the area where they were planted.  Jewelweed can be downright invasive.
Jewelweed
Last year, I bought a small pot of bee balm on an impulse at Lowe's.  I don't think the tag said it would be pink.  I was expecting red, but of course there were no flowers at the time I planted it.  It didn't flower last year at all, but I noticed that the plants did spread.
 
And this year ... wow!  Did they ever take off!

All this from a little plant that cost less than $4!

I am no gardener at all, but I do hope to continue planting a few perennials each year.  And I am going to get much more bee balm planted as it seems to do very well in that spot.


Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Goals for week beginning August 5/2013

Isn't that washi tape (holding down the edges of my vintage advertising clipping) amazing?  You can download it here: Free Digital Washi Tape at
A Typical English Home.
Not only a new week (which I am late setting goals for!) but a new month as well.  How has the summer passed so quickly?  The past few days the evenings and mornings have been so cool.  It feels wonderful (I really don't enjoy hot weather) but is a vivid reminder that fall will be here before we know it.  My goals for the week:
*  Begin a new Back on Track challenge
*  Spend time in 2 Samuel Bible study
*  Get a good start on Sunday School lesson 7
 *  Make 1 or 2 pages for "What Do I Know About My God"?  notebook
*  Memorize Psalm 145:1-5
*  Read 2 chapters in A Woman's Call to Prayer
*  Exercise or go for walks as often as time allows
*  Keep up with crafting goals for birthdays, Christmas, and finishing UFOs
* Get a birthday package ready for Micah
*  Keep up a good water intake
*  Get to bed by 9:30 or 10 pm each night
*  Post at least four times in my regular blog, and in my Christmas blog as time allows
*  Get a lot of basic homemaking tasks done in various zones of the house
*  Begin the large project of reorganizing the many piles, stacks, notebooks and containers full of recipes I've collected over time.
*  Weed the garden
*  Make a daily time schedule for the things I need to do

And here is how last week went:
*  Begin a new Back on Track challenge -- not done
*  Spend time in 2 Samuel Bible study -- DONE!
*  Get a good start on Sunday School lesson 7 -- DONE!
 *  Make 1 or 2 pages for "What Do I Know About My God"?  notebook -- not done
*  Memorize Psalm 145:1-5 -- only managed to learn verse 1
*  Read 2 chapters in A Woman's Call to Prayer -- only read 1 chapter
*  Exercise or go for walks as often as time allows -- did some walking a couple of days
*  Keep up with crafting goals for birthdays, Christmas, and finishing UFOs -- -- DONE!
*  Keep up a good water intake -- DONE!
*  Get to bed by 9:30 or 10 pm each night -- not done
*  Post every day (at least through Wednesday) in my Christmas blog and at least four times in my regular blog -- DONE! for the Christmas blog; think I managed only twice in this one
*  Get a lot of basic homemaking tasks done in various zones of the house -- accomplished a few of these.
*  Begin the large project of reorganizing the many piles, stacks, notebooks and containers full of recipes I've collected over time -- not done
 *  Weed the garden -- did a little bit
*  Make plans for a fall getaway with my hubby--- DONE!
* Catch up with my Nevada daughter via a phone chat -- DONE!
*  Make a daily time schedule for the things I need to do  -- DONE!

It's been a crazy week and I am really tempted to put the Back on Track challenge on hold until fall.  But, remembering the adage that if you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time, I am still hoping to try.

 As for the garden -- it's a very poor gardening year for us.  Too much rain.  Our tomatoes are nearly dead; our lettuce came up well but gets beaten down whenever it rains.  It is not making much headway at all.  Our squash plants (the ones that came up, that is, plus some that we planted as actual plants rather than seeds) look fairly good and even have some nice blossoms, but they are for the most part the sort of false blossom that does not turn into a squash.  Our marigolds are doing great!  As is some pink bee balm which I planted last year.  We are thinking next year we may plant only flowers!

Thursday, August 01, 2013

August Goals


from my collection of vintage magazine ads
Time to set some goals for a new month!  Here are my August goals:
* Continue reading through the book of Psalms, journaling as I go.
* Continue reading A Woman's Call to Prayer
* Memorize at least 4 Bible verses.
* Continue study of 2 Samuel
* Exercise at least 15 times; walk as often as possible
* Get to bed by 9:30 pm each night.
* Limit sugar.
* Drink enough water each day.
* Keep up with Kelly's missions in homemaking zones of the week.
* Spend several hours updating my A-store.
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family.
* Post several times weekly in one or both of my blogs
* Finish some UFO craft projects
* Declutter several closets
* Work on crafts for gifts or sale
* Complete a back-on-track challenge

And here is how July went:
* Continue reading through the book of Psalms, journaling as I go -- DONE!
* Continue reading A Woman's Call to Prayer -- DONE!
* Memorize at least 4 Bible verses -- DONE!
* Continue study of 2 Samuel -- DONE!
* Exercise at least 15 times; walk as often as possible -- not done, though I have managed to walk occasionally
* Get to bed by 9:30 pm each night -- not done
* Limit sugar -- not done
* Drink enough water each day -- did quite well with this
* Keep up with Kelly's missions in homemaking zones of the week -- not done, but progress is being made
* Spend several hours updating my A-store -- think I spent about an hour on this
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family -- DONE!
* Post every day in my Christmas blog and several times weekly in my regular blog -- DONE!
* Finish some UFO craft projects -- DONE!  (I finished a large embroidered winter scene -- now Mr. T wants to make a special birch bark frame for it)
* Declutter several closets -- not done
* Work on crafts for gifts or sale -- -- DONE!
* Complete a back-on-track challenge -- not done

I did fail miserably in my back-on-track challenge, so am going to try again this month.  And as for sugar ... well, the month has been generally quite hot and sticky.  Not good for baking.  And I've never been able to make consistently good no-bake cookies.  Very often, they just wouldn't set up.  So, for years, I didn't even try.  Quite a few years ago I asked a friend, who had brought no-bakes to an activity at church, for her recipe.  She had never had a problem with it failing.  She gave me not one but two recipes (two different flavors), but even though this was at least 5 years ago or so, I didn't try either one.  This summer, it's been so hot, and my hubby "needed" cookies, so I got out the recipe and tried it.  And it didn't fail!  As a result, I've been making no-bakes a lot.  So much for limiting sugar...